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Christmas Ale - Shepherd Neame Ltd

Not Rated.
Christmas AleChristmas Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
76
okay

46 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 46
Reviews: 27
rAvg: 3.31
pDev: 16.62%
Wants: 0
Gots: 3 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Shepherd Neame Ltd visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  7.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 12-06-2003)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 46 | Reviews: 27 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by liamt07:
Photo of liamt07
3.58/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle from the LCBO, into a tulip.

Translucent dark red, thin off white head with mild retention and some spots of lace. Nose is sweet, some bubble gum, some gentle spicing, and some bready character. Not the most complex nose, but not bad. Taste has some grainy bread character, obscure fruit notes and some peripheral spicing. Bitterness in the finish. Medium feel, medium low carb. Ok, nothing exciting.

liamt07, Dec 14, 2012
More User Reviews:
Photo of beerhunter13
4/5  rDev +20.8%

beerhunter13, Nov 22, 2012
Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.5/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Single 500ml bottle from the LCBO, part of the 2012 holiday release. The bottle is quite nice, big Christmas wreath with hops.

Poured into a nonic. Light copper-amber, clear, decent head of foam that survives as a sturdy ring.

Nose is English pale with a little extra spice and earthy hops. Some citrus as well.

Decent pale ale taste with earthy hops, a bit of fruit (orange peel), tea, caramel. Standard stuff, but balanced and not bad.

Light bodied, easy to drink, mild carbonation.

Not bad, actually - classic case of the reviews setting me up for disappointment, but being pleasantly surprised, though this might just be this years' edition doing the talking. Might be a good stocking stuffer, but I'll stick with my usual holiday fare this year.

JohnnyBarman, Nov 27, 2012
Photo of TheBrk
3.25/5  rDev -1.8%

TheBrk, Nov 16, 2013
Photo of djcreepshow
3/5  rDev -9.4%

djcreepshow, Nov 23, 2012
Photo of mintjellie
2.35/5  rDev -29%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Medium amber colour, brilliant clarity. Small, poorly retained off-white head. Almost no lace. Weak aroma, primarily floral with lighter notes of toasted cereal and diacetyl. Malt-forward flavour up-front with a nutty toasted malt note, followed by light butterscotch and an earthy/spicy hop note. Light-bodied with low carbonation and a thin, greasy mouthfeel. It doesn't taste bad, just overly plain and boring. Lacking in depth and complexity of flavour. Unpleasant mouthfeel. A disappointment.

mintjellie, Dec 05, 2012
Photo of Sammy
3.6/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Slightly spicy light orange tinged bodied beer. Decently drinkable. Understated, medium bodied. Drinkable with supper, somewhat more fruity and spicy (mild cinammon heat)than your average English beer. OK, but nothing outstanding or worth seeking out twice.

Sammy, Nov 26, 2012
Photo of beerluvr
3.69/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2012/13 edition

A - Off white head, clear light amber

S - Sweet malt, brown sugar, fruit

T - Biscuity malt, slighty tannic, mild spicy hop bitterness & yeast fruitiness

M - Smooth gentle carbonation, medium bodied with a spectacularly balanced finish

O - An excellent example of an English Xmas ale, very flavorful and balanced, with both hop and malt in check without either overpowering. Very well made.

beerluvr, Nov 15, 2013
Photo of DaveBar
1.74/5  rDev -47.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 1.5

Thought this one would be interesting... wasn't really.

A- Pretty good! Nice dark amber colour. Ok head

S- Not much there at all. Was hoping for a lot more

T- Not so good. Cross between a scotch ale and a chocolate malt. Horrible aftertaste. Thin, thin, thin. No aging at all it seems. Alcohol is right forward but the whole beer is unbalanced. Just a hodge podge of characters strewn together and branded a Christmas Ale

M- Silky smooth

O- Not so good. Would not buy again.

Wow this thing just gets worse as time goes by. Pouring it down the drain it's that bad.

Thx for reading

DaveBar, Nov 16, 2013
Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle: Poured a bright copper color ale with a relatively large foamy head with good retention and some light lacing. Aroma of fruity ester with candy like notes with light caramelized malt notes. Taste is also dominated by some very nice candy like ester with some refreshing fruity notes and some medium caramel malt notes. Body is light with good carbonation. Nothing extreme in this beer but well balance with nice work around the ester.

Phyl21ca, Feb 09, 2014
Photo of BlackHaddock
3/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Christmas Ale 2006. Clear 500ml bottle, 5.5%.

Best before end of September 2007, drank early November 2007, so just out of date.

Poured into my bateman's straight half pint sleeve glass, twice.

Light amber in colour, with an off white head, plenty of bubbles rising through the beer. Head shrinks too fast.

The label claims it has an aroma of tropical fruits, it did smell fairly sweet, but I thought caramel (I often do) and flowery perfume.

For a special Christmas brew it falls well short of a top winter warmer in my eyes, this is a good solid ale but it doesn't carry enough taste, power or umph to make it stand out. I detected oak within the aftertaste and I enjoyed the beer, but not enough to buy another if I see one.

BlackHaddock, Nov 08, 2007
Photo of vinicole
4/5  rDev +20.8%

vinicole, Dec 18, 2013
Photo of beerdrifter
3.53/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a bottle of this at the Mondial Bier Fest in Strasbourg, France. Clear light copper-amber pour with two finger head, good retention, and great lacing. The nose was a bit skunky at first, but quickly faded and gave way to banana bread, tea, caramel, and toffee with just a touch of dark fruit. The taste pretty much follows suit with hints of fruity tea, caramel, herbal hops, banana bread, and a bit of butter and metal as well. The balance is good and the 7% ABV warms slightly and makes for a pretty drinkable beer. Fairly dry mouthfeel with a nice bitter finish. Not really what I think of as a Christmas beer, but still pretty solid.

beerdrifter, Nov 02, 2011
Photo of Globetrotter
3.45/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Found in a Moscow grocery store - in April. Clear half liter bottle with "1698 - Britain's oldest brewer" etched on the glass. Silver and red label indicating 2005 vintage. No ingredient information. Best before end of September 2006, I opened it on 4/26/06.

Pours a clear pale copper under a one finger beige head with big bubbles but decent contour and good retention - albeit very little lace. The nose is strong and spicey, raising initial feas of skunk, but then unfolding as more syrupy and crisp. The mouth is light and very well-carbonated. Strong hoppy flavor, but weak on malt balance. The hops are very dry and quite bitter, like espresso. The dryness lingers long into the aftertaste. A touch of fruit emerges as it warms, this brew remains pretty one-sided, but pleasantly so.

Globetrotter, Apr 27, 2006
Photo of spinrsx
3.53/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml Bottle from the Ottawa LCBO for 3.50$

Appearance - Reddish copper colour with an average size fizzy and frothy beige head. There is an average amount of carbonation showing and there is some fairly good lacing. The head lasted for 4-5 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, dark fruits, butterscotch

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts and some butterscotch. There is also some raisin/cherry flavour and a bit of a fruit cake like taste. There is also a light amount of all-spice and the beer ends with a malty sweet aftertaste.

Overall - It's better than the previous reviews lead me to believe. The alcohol seems well hidden and while it isn't the most exciting winter warmer I've had this year, it has a nice well balanced flavour. Not something I'd buy another bottle of this year, but something I'd buy again next holiday season.

spinrsx, Nov 22, 2012
Photo of RedAleMan
3.25/5  rDev -1.8%

RedAleMan, Nov 17, 2013
Photo of stjarnflikka
2.2/5  rDev -33.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours a clear, red beer with a thick white foam that directly brings your mind to CHRISTMAS :D

The first dissapointment though comes quite quick with the first sniff. There is some malt, a citric fruity trace and a dry alcoholic smell. Weak smell however.

The second dissapointment comes when tasting the beer. Once again there is malt and some bitterness that quickly dissappears. The beer has some undefinable flavour that doesnt belong there that together with the generally weak taste really makes this a winter warmer.

Really not a winter warmer, and even so not a good beer. Ill try it again though, to see if its better next year.

stjarnflikka, Jan 11, 2005
Photo of EmperorBevis
3.05/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

A reddish brown clear body with a tidal wave of foamy white head that stops you pouring a 500ml bottle into a full pint glass that soon goes

Muted aromas of mince pies and gunpowder

Some crystallised fruit and some warmth but it feels more like boozy heartburn than Christmas spice and just then lies flat no depth, no

Just so thin for such a strength ale and too fizzy

not a good winter warmer

almost enough to convince Clarence it isn't a wonderful life

EmperorBevis, Dec 12, 2013
Photo of thehyperduck
3.38/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

500 mL bottle picked up at the LCBO, served slightly chilled. One of several English winter warmers I picked up during my last trip, which I have either not seen or neglected to try until now. I generally enjoy UK takes on this style, at least in comparison to domestic examples which I find tend to have the living shit spiced out of them.

Pours a bright, clear orange-amber colour, generating two fingers of frothy, resilient off-white head that gradually seeps away. Gobs of lacing are left sticking to the glass as it recedes into a thin, creamy cap and collar. The aroma is a little too sweet for my liking - lots of dark fruit and caramel, toffee, baker's chocolate, with a hint of spice and fig newton. It's not really off-putting, but it smells more like a confection than a beer.

After my first sip I really want to like this, but I just can't find any compelling reasons to. There's lots of bready malts, with toffee and fruitcake as well, and it doesn't get any less saccharine from there. Toasted nuts and earthy, spicy hop notes remain hidden until the finish, with the ethanol providing some warmth - I appreciate it on a cold night like this, but truthfully it doesn't blend well with the flavour profile, and the resulting syrupy mouthfeel does not help matters much. Medium-bodied, leaving a slick, unappealing sensation behind on the palate after each sip. Not that difficult to drink quickly, and otherwise I can really only say 'meh'.

Final Grade: 3.38, a B-. Shepherd Neame's Christmas Ale is serviceable, but compared to some of my favourite English examples of this style it just seems dull and forgettable. It's not bad - it's just plain, with too much alcohol for such a sparse, unvaried flavour. Worth a try I suppose, at least if you're a fan of stronger English ales, but the next time I want a warmer I'll probably stick with Samuel Smith's or St. Peter's.

thehyperduck, Nov 14, 2013
Photo of Reidrover
2.78/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Very attractive packaging. Nice Olde Worlde bottle in a nice red octagonal box. Amber colour, nice sized light tan, bubbly head. Pretty feeble aroma, grassy with a little watered down malt, unimpressed. Smooth ,weak malts, a little spice and some fruit..boring taste Thin mouthfeel but reasonable. I found this bland but ecause of its supreme blandness could probably drink a couple. This was very very dissapointing. This was very weak ,tasteless stuff compared to the Scottish Ales I had been drinking. Back to the drawing board on this one
2006 version

Reidrover, Nov 22, 2006
Photo of cfalovo97
3/5  rDev -9.4%

cfalovo97, Dec 06, 2012
Photo of GreenCard
3.1/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: amber hue, a chincy layer of off-white suds that quickly fades to almost nothing

Aroma: pineapple, cotton candy, faint almonds, touch of malt

Flavor: mild malt sweetness, some guava-like fruitiness, mild floral hop flavor, a pleasant drying hop bitterness, slight roast in the aftertaste, dryish finish

Mouthfeel: medium body, gentle carbonation, minerally, somewhat astringent

Overall Impression: If it weren't for the festive packaging denoting Christmas, this beer would be not much different from most pale ales. Still, it has a nice nose and a "more-ish" afertaste.

GreenCard, Dec 26, 2003
Photo of windypete
3/5  rDev -9.4%

windypete, Dec 24, 2013
Photo of DenisKolkin
3.54/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500 ml bottle purchased for $3.50 CDN from the LCBO. Served cold into a pint glass.

Appearance - 1 finger of frothy white head rests on top of a bubbly copper red beer that is transparent. Head subsides a bit then lingers for the remainder of the beer. Very festive looking.

Smell - Beer and bready smell with a few spices thrown in and a butterscotch note that is a reminder of Christmas. I'm also picking of something that reminds me a bit of a rum soaked fruitcake. Very pleasant smells, but they are not terribly strong. Smells do come out a bit more as beer warms.

Taste - Boozy and sweet which transitions into a bit of a bitter flavor with slightly metallic elements. Also a bit of the aforementioned fruitcake flavor doused in alcohol. I enjoyed this this but I can see that the very upfront alcohol (especially given that its 7% we're not talking a 12% Christmas Ale here) could be a distraction to some.

Mouthfeel - Well carbonated and fairly smooth, but even a bit thin despite high ABV. Also a bit on the gassy side.

Overall - Nice winter warmer that i enjoyed more than the Wychwood offering, but still not super enamored with the style. However a beer that will certainly warm you up especially after a short walk on a cold November's night in Canada.

DenisKolkin, Nov 14, 2013
Photo of helloloser12345
3.88/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving Type: 500ml, Presented in a very nice silver box.

Pour: Nice tan head foams up but quickly subsides.

Appearance: Beautiful dark amber colour with warm red hues.

Smell: Biscuit, dried fruit. Aromas are unusually subtle for this kind of beer and are very hard to pick out.

Flavour: Dark fruity malts, raisins and slightly nutty.

Overall: Not bad at all, very drinkable. I agree with my fried bob that it isn’t just a typical winter warmer.

helloloser12345, Jan 11, 2005
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Christmas Ale from Shepherd Neame Ltd
76 out of 100 based on 46 ratings.